Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Student Government Association ratifies general election results

Voter participation was low, with only 8.64 percent participation in the presidential vote
Courtesy of Tess Weisman and Josh Gauthier.

The University of Massachusetts Student Government Association ratified the spring 2023 general election results at its weekly meeting on Wednesday.

According to the official elections report, Tess Weisman, the secretary of university policy and a sophomore studying psychology, will become the next SGA president with 43 percent of the vote. Joshua Gauthier, the secretary of finance and a sophomore studying finance, was elected as vice president.

Chris Brady, a junior studying economics and political science, was elected student trustee with 693 votes, 40 percent of the vote. Brady, the current chair of the Academic Oversight Committee, will now serve as a student representative on the UMass system’s Board of Trustees. The previous election for student trustee failed due to the inability to reach the threshold of 500 voters. As a result, Adam Lechowicz, a former SGA senator and current graduate student, was appointed interim.

Notably in the student trustee report, 497 votes or 23 percent, were “invalidated

pursuant to SGA By-Laws Title VIII, Chapter 17, Section 2.” When asked why these votes were not accounted for, SGA President Shayan Raza explained that the invalidated votes were “write-ins that were not registered.” The president/vice president election also had 241 votes invalidated for similar reasons, 11 percent of the vote.

The Senate also validated the election of 34 students to fill seats representing the classes of 2024, 2025 and 2026.

The report detailed the turnout rate for the presidential, vice presidential and trustee elections. Of the 23,686 eligible undergraduates, only 2,047 voters cast their ballot — an eight percent turnout rate. The trustee vote included graduate students; of the 28,012 eligible voters, only 2,121 students participated — a turnout rate of seven percent.

The ballot included four referendums, including two on SGA familiarity and approval rating. Voters were asked whether they were aware of certain processes by the SGA. Students were presented with ten initiatives: Registered Student Organizations (RSOs), student organization budget and finances, Multicultural Night, elections, conduct advising, iClicker loan program, parking ticket forgiveness, the Equity Fund, emergency funding and veteran services.

Results were sparse, with the highest being Registered Student Organizations at 27.72 percent. Elections were second at only 12.67 percent. The least recognizable were conduct advising at three percent and veteran services at less than two percent.

SGA satisfaction rates were mixed. Voters were asked to rate how satisfied they were with the SGA from one to five, with one being not at all satisfied and five being very satisfied. 27 percent of voters gave a three, with 27 percent voting “Don’t Know/ Not Sure.” Only six percent of voters rated the SGA as a one, whereas 11 percent rated them at a five.

A third referendum referenced the current beverage contract between the University and Coca-Cola, with an exclusive pouring rights agreement mandating 80 percent of beverages belong to their brand. The referendum noted, “An exclusive contract could reduce costs and maximize availability of beverages on campus. A non-exclusive contract could expand student beverage choice, create a potential relationship with local beverage companies and the University, and align with the University’s sustainability goals.” 1,585 votes, 80 percent of voting participants, went to supporting a non-exclusive beverage contract.

The final question was regarding SGA-sponsored program space availability. 796 voters, 41 percent, voted that they were dissatisfied with current arrangements. 591 voters, 30 percent, voted “Don’t Know/Not Sure.”

“The election overall was a really good success,” Chancellor of Elections, Ami Rajesh Mungilwar, said. “We finally have our student trustee.”

Mungilwar noted that there were three formal complaints, including two against the Marco Ulysse and Kofi Asibey ticket. Two warnings were issued for RSOs supporting or endorsing their campaign. The other was with regards to an endorsement for student trustee candidate Keri Dahan by Mishelanu, a “campus program that provides a home for Israeli-American students in order to strengthen and maintain their identity through culture, language, heritage and a strong connection to Israel.” No action was taken as Mishelanu is not an RSO.

Alex Genovese can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @alex_genovese1.

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